Read: I John 1
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
Most believers have favorite verses from the Bible: John 3:16—“For God so loved the world…” Jeremiah 29:11—“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord…” Ephesians 2:10—“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…” Psalm 23—“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”
But this verse in I John 1, if not my favorite, certainly represents a promise that I have most often claimed. In fact, if you are like me, you use this verse early and often. Though I do not make a practice of deliberately sinning, I do have my moments when I give into temptation, surrender to the flesh and fail God. Frankly, I am a sinner.
But that—sinner—is not my true identity. Rather, I am a sinner saved by grace. That is the true me; one whose sinful nature and whose acts of sin are covered by God’s grace.
The truth is, we all sin. Every Christ-follower who wants to do away with sin stumbles, sometimes in small ways, sometimes largely. But by God’s grace, Jesus has made a way for us to be relieved of our sins simply, thoroughly and unconditionally when we humbly and honestly confess them before him. And when we confess our sins, he forgives us! How awesome is that? Each time we sin, Jesus has already atoned for that sin by his blood that was shed on the cross. So when we confess, we are simply tapping into an inexhaustible reservoir of forgiveness that was established when Jesus deposited grace by his sacrificial death.
Now some people, including me, at times feel so badly about their sin that they wonder if it has truly been forgiven. One of the wonderful things about the truth proclaimed in this verse is that our forgiveness doesn’t rest on our feelings. It rests on God’s faithfulness. Notice what John wrote: “When we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us our sins.”
Nor is our forgiveness affected by the presence of guilt. There are times, frankly, that I will still feel very badly days later about a sin that I have confessed. But my guilt does not mean I am not forgiven. Bear in mind that forgiveness is based on God’s justice. You might still feel guilty, but that doesn’t affect God. He was completely just in forgiving your awful sin because Jesus already bore the punishment for it. That’s why John writes, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I am so grateful for the truth of this verse, and I suspect that you are too. For sure, we need to do away with sin in our lives, but when we don’t, when we blow it, we can go to God and he eagerly and freely forgives us for Jesus’ sake.
How great is that? No other god is like our God—we are most blessed.
Father, forgive me from all unrighteousness and cleanse me thoroughly through the blood of Jesus so that I can be kept in right standing in your awesome presence. Steer me away from evil and keep me on the paths of righteousness this day. And thank you for the inexhaustible gift of forgiveness made possible by your grace. Though I hope I don’t have to tap into your forgiveness again this day, I’m sure I will.